It’s November 26th. The day before Thanksgiving. Two days before Black Friday. Five days before the arrival of December. And you know what that means?
NaNoWriMo, to which I officially dedicated myself many weeks ago, is basically over. So I imagine I ought to tell you how that has gone and, obviously, celebrate my victory! OMG!
Depends who you ask. I’ll just say this: November was a great month. Really. I may not have written 50,000 unique words, but I finished a first draft (albeit a sloppy one in need of much editing) of that book I first talked about way back in August. It only took downwards of 30,000 words to wrap shit up so I figured I’d move on from verbally vomiting for the sake of some free coffee mugs and t-shirts to yet another contest, but one with more at stake than bragging rights: the national Scholastic art and writing contest for students.
This contest, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country, offers not only the pleasure of having won something with words but also real actual physical money people and plaques and shit. It’s got some pretty famous alumni too, like Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath and Robert Redford and Lena Dunham and Ken Burns and yeah you should get the point by now: it’s competitive.
But what attracted me the most was the prospect of a novel-writing category, wherein students submit a 50-page sample of the novel and a 500-word summary to accompany it. The ultimate prize? A chance at some professional editing from a real, actual editor over at Scholastic. And then, I assuming, if they like your shit, enough...
...THEY MIGHT ACTUALLY PUBLISH IT.
It’s paralyzing, just thinking about it. How can I possibly write something so fucking amazing that a professional editor will take a chance on it? The judges, even?
I’ll open up the document and stare at the page and freeze up. It’s fucking anxiety, ruining everything again. Anxiety about what someone might think about my writing. The disarming self-consciousness that comes with a lack of anonymity. I start to doubt my own abilities, think that maybe I’m delusional and I can’t write for shit.
And then I think about being published, and it melts away. Only for a little bit. I write in bursts. Gotta get the words down before your own self-editor busts in and tells you to shut up and put the computer away and factor some equations, goddamit! Can’t even remember negative b plus or minus the square root of b plus 4 times a times c over two a! or something! How can you write, if you can’t even do that?
And that, my friends, is why NaNoWriMo helped. It told us that we shouldn’t listen to our editors. Or the editors of our editors. Or the editors of—basically any inner voice that tries to shut you down. They told us to just go wherever our characters take us. Believe in ourselves.
So for that, I am grateful.
Okay now onto pumpkin pie.
|Well that was fast.|
Adding to my own self-loathing was my inability to make a decent pumpkin pie. There are just not enough good vegan pumpkin pie recipes out there. Or maybe there are, but I just can’t get them right and they come out shitty. Either way, I know I have finally found at least one iteration of vegan pumpkin pie that I can guarantee that everyone—even my health nut aunt and my diabetic grandmother—can enjoy this Thanksgiving.
The crust is my personal favorite part. Very spicy and sweet and crunchy, loads of texture and flavor. The filling is, however, the star attraction and as such it has to be good—which it is. Creamy and thick and shockingly sugar-free, with the help of erythritol (which you can substitute with granulated sugar, if you prefer more traditional desserts). I have only one complaint, and that is the banana. You may find the flavor of the banana a bit too strong for your tastes, and I would agree somewhat. Feel free to substitute with a quarter cup more tofu. If not, it’s still amazing.
|Well of course it is. Just look at it.|
Now, I know I’ve talked far too long this time, so I’ll just shut up and give you the recipe.
Gluten-free pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust
Makes one 9-inch square pan
Crust (adapted from Texanerin Baking)
285 • almond flour • 2 ¾ cups
33 grams • coconut flour • ¼ cup
3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon
2 grams • baking soda • ½ teaspoon
3 grams • cinnamon • 1 teaspoon
2 grams • ground ginger • 1 teaspoon
1 gram • cloves • ½ teaspoon
0.5 grams • nutmeg • ¼ teaspoon
120 grams • maple syrup • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons
80 grams • molasses • ¼ cup
56 grams • coconut oil, melted • ¼ cup
Filling (adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)
70 grams • raw whole cashews, soaked for about four hours • ½ cup
100 grams • mashed banana (try substituting more tofu) • ¼ cup
390 grams • silken tofu • 1 14-ounce package
175 grams • granulated erythritol • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons
20 grams • molasses • 1 tablespoon
42 grams • coconut oil, softened • 3 tablespoons
14 grams • cornstarch • 2 tablespoons
30 grams • lemon juice • 2 tablespoons
14 grams • vanilla extract • 1 tablespoon
2 grams • grated orange zest • 1 teaspoon
2 grams • salt • ¼ teaspoon
460 grams • pumpkin puree • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons
2 grams • cinnamon • 1 teaspoon
0.5 grams • ginger • ¼ teaspoon
0.5 grams • cloves • ¼ teaspoon
To make gingerbread cookies, start by sifting together almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients under “crust” in a separate bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until thoroughly combined. Chill dough for half an hour.
Remove dough from refrigerator and scoop into small balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten down with your fingers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are dry and the dough is cooked through. Let cool completely on baking sheet before using.
Finish making crust by placing cookies in a food processor and blending until the cookies are broken up into very small pieces. If the cookies do not stick together, add a tablespoon or so of coconut oil. Press cookies into the bottom of a greased and parchment-lined 9 inch square pan. Set aside while you make the filling.
To make filling, place all ingredients under “filling” in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may want to start with the cashews and pumpkin and gradually add liquid ingredients. Be patient to get nice, creamy cheesecake.
Pour filling into crust; smooth over the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Cheesecake is done when it is slightly puffed and the edges are golden. Let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
Note: make this grain-free by using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch in the filling.
|Strategically placed fork.|
As you may have noticed, winter has arrived. It even snowed in my area, so of course I had to take a dramatic and moody photo of a bar posed in front of the snow-coated landscape that is my backyard.
And that’s all I have to say about that, folks. Have a happy Thanksgiving fellow Americans, and for those of you outside this dear bastion of freedom I’m sending you well-wishes anyway.